Gaza organizers cancel Friday border protests


17 May 2019| 11 Ramadaan 1440| Al Arabiya

Organizers cancelled the main weekly protests along the Gaza-Israel border on Friday, for only the second time in more than a year.

They said a large demonstration had already been held in Gaza on Wednesday to commemorate what Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were expelled or fled from their homes during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel.

“Today there are no activities in the ‘Return Camps’ in the east of the Gaza Strip, due to the high temperature and to provide a break to citizens, who held a large protest two days ago,” the organising committee said in a statement.

The “March of Return” demonstrations have been held at least weekly since March 2018, with the backing of Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas.

Friday protests were cancelled just once before – after a flare-up between Israel and Hamas in March.

Protesters have been demanding an end to Israel’s more than decade-old blockade of Gaza and the right for Palestinian refugees to return to ancestral lands now inside Israel.

Israel says any such return would spell its demise as a Jewish state and accuses Hamas of orchestrating the protests as an excuse for violence.

At least 293 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the protests began, the majority during the protests.

Six Israelis have been killed in Gaza-related violence.